More Freeing “Don’ts” for Holiday Writing

Everybody loves being empowered, right? Here are the promised tips that will help you make the most of this material-rich season.


Believable Dialogue & Character Interactions

It’s easy to write descriptions the size of Iceland and follow them with an equally large (and arguably isolated) chunk of dialogue. Dialogue will never feel natural until it flows in the same rhythm that real conversations do, and there is always more happening than just the words being said.

Think tags. I.e. “This chocolate sauce is awful,” she said as her spoon snuck back into the pan.  

There’s always context, setting, movement around the speakers. As you eavesdrop and log away your own conversations, pay attention to hand gestures, body language, the sounds and surroundings of the conversation because that will make your dialogue come to life.


Complete Sensory Descriptions

The existence of scented candles alone should be enough to tell us writers that smell is a sense that people care about– at least, there’s someone willing to pay $27.99 to fill their house with the aroma of “Cozy by the FireTM.”

Here are the senses, listed in order of least used in writing to most:

  1. Smell

  2. Touch

  3. Taste

  4. Hearing

  5. Sight

You use every one of them every day– you should in your writing, too. As you describe the scenes that unfold around you this season, try to incorporate the first three as much as you can. It will probably seem unnatural and perhaps a little overkill at first, but intentionally incorporating all of the senses will bring new depth to your writing.

*My next post will be a list of sensory & descriptor words that can be used as an introductory guide*


Unique & Engaging Characters

The best characters are fine blends of real people.

So talk to people.

Is there one event in their life that they keep bringing up? If so, why do you think that is? What is their body doing as they talk to you? Do people listen when they speak? How do they sound? Do they bookend their sentences with certain phrases?

Anytime you notice something interesting about a person, jot it down. This could be literally anything so long as it catches your eye, because if it makes you a little more engaged, chances are that the detail that made you pause will draw your readers in too.

And if that’s not enough motivation, you’re going to be saddled with your characters for a while, so it’s also in the name of self-preservation that you make them interesting.

But no matter what you end up doing during the holidays,

have a Merry Christmas!



Abigail signing (festively) off.


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